27 February 2016

Wingfield

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow? 
With silver bells, and cockle shells, 
And pretty maids all in a row.

In the sixteenth century, Mary Queen of Scots spent the last eighteen years of her life "imprisoned" at several locations in England. Politically and religiously she was deemed to be a threat to the English throne. I put the word "imprisoned" inside inverted commas because hers was a rather odd sort of imprisonment. Not for her a dark cell with bars and a drunken jailer rattling his keys. No. For Mary, there were hunting parties, an entourage of servants, banquets and trysts with noblemen. There was, it seems,  little actual suffering until her head was chopped off at Fotheringay Castle in 1587. She was forty four years old.
For most of her many years of "imprisonment" she was under the stewardship of The Earl of Shrewsbury. Fabulously wealthy, The Earl effectively owned several important properties including Sheffield's lost medieval castle, Sheffield Manor and a massive manor house located some twenty four miles south just outside a Derbyshire village called South Wingfield.

Strategically located, the palatial manor was constructed in the middle of the fifteenth century for Lord Cromwell, The Treasurer of England on the site of a Norman Castle.

Two hundred years later, in the middle of the seventeenth century, Wingfield Manor was ruined during The English Civil War and no one has occupied it since but a farm - called unsurprisingly Manor Farm - was built within the old manor house's grounds. Today the ruins and the working farm complex mingle together.

Public visits to Wingfield Manor are strictly controlled by English Heritage. I have a sense that the current landowners and the occupiers of the farm have been resistant to pressures to improve access. But it is a part of our country's heritage and to me it is a crying shame that visitors are kept away by warning notices - "Private", "No Entry", "No Public Access" etcetera. The ruins also deserve proper maintenance.

When I walked by the ruins on Thursday, I was only able to snap a few external shots that hint at what lies within. As I returned to South Wingfield in the late afternoon, the daylight was becoming gloomy but looking across a sheep pasture I think you get a sense of just how monumental Wingfield Manor was. An intriguing place from where a troubled queen once looked out and heard crows cawing in the oak wood below...

16 comments:

  1. Another great post and photographs. What a shame that you cannot access the ruins.

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    1. Access is not impossible - just difficult Leisha.

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  2. Thank you YP. How sad that the once magnificent building has been allowed to go to ruin. though it says something that parts of the building are still standing, even today.

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    1. Many of the old dressed stones were taken away by locals for new building projects but as you can see a lot of Wingfield manor remains.

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  3. A well-written post, Yorkie.

    Poor Mary...she squeezed in three marriages during her brief unfortunate life. Sour Elizabeth had to suffer not only the indignity of herself not being wedded, not even once (although probably bedded more than once) but she mostly likely also envied the beauty of her tall, auburn-haired cousin as well! Oh, such is life in a royal household!

    It would be such a pitiful shame if Wingfield Manor is left to further ruin. I hope someone takes the reins and it is preserved for future generations...it is part of the rich history.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and imaginative response Lee.

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  4. Too bad you can't gain access to this ruin. You have all the history and as you say it would make more sense if you were on site.

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    1. It is possible to join a Saturday morning English Heritage guided tour during the summer but you have to arrange it and pay for it in advance and there are no guarantees about spaces or indeed the weather.

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  5. Love thee last photo, so atmospheric. Good old English Heritage seems to get all the ruins and the National Trust all the good houses to preserve. I guess that's the idea ?Such a shame a huge building like that could not be preserved but then there are so many of them aren't there?

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    1. You are right Helen but I think that this one is special.

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  6. What an intriguing place! It must have been hard to keep away and not go exploring among the tall grass and crumbling walls.
    But I guess if I were living on that farm, I'd want to keep it all to myself, too, and not have throngs of noisy visitors trampling all over the place, leaving chocolate wrappers and empty beer cans everywhere.

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    1. How did you know that I like to chomp on bars of chocolate and swig cans of beer when I am walking in the countryside?

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  7. For a time she was also imprisoned up here in Wensleydale at Bolton Castle, about five miles from where our farm is.
    Still in quite good order, it is maintained and opened to the public - by the present Lord Bolton.

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    1. Yes. I knew that Mrs Weaver. That was before being moved to Sheffield under The Earl of Shrewsbury. I should like to visit Bolton Castle and am very relieved that it is not in Bolton, Lancashire!

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  8. I've come across similar relics that now rest on private land limiting access. I doubt that they will ever be returned to there original condition, but it is possible to get planning permission for them to be preserved as a "controlled ruin". Sadly, that costs money that is unlikely to be forthcoming these days.

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    1. Controlled ruin? I thought that that was how Mrs Parrots referred to you when giggling secretly with her woman friends.

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